• Children’s book author Betsy Byars has always been very interested in animals, including snakes and bugs. When she was a young girl, she waded in a creek. When she came out, she was very interested to find that brown things had attached themselves to her legs and didn’t want to come off, so she went home to show everyone. The brown things were leeches, and her mother was not happy. But despite being forbidden to get leeches on her legs again, Betsy waded in the creek whenever she wanted to collect leeches for a free-admission “zoo” in the backyard.
• In London immediately following World War II, food was scarce. However, one day, Lord Snowy, the pet cat of children’s book illustrator Tony Ross’s Uncle Barry, came to the rescue. Lord Snowy played on the balcony for a while one day, then dragged a steak into the apartment. Uncle Barry took the steak from Lord Snowy, washed it, and in an exhaustive taste test discovered that it was delicious. Where did the steak come from? No idea. Unfortunately, although Uncle Barry continued to let Lord Snowy play on the balcony, the cat brought no more steaks home.
• Lee Brewster owned and managed Lee’s Mardi Gras, a store for cross-dressers (mainly men who dress like women) in New York. He had a beloved house cat named Kitty Cat, and when he had to take his beloved cat to a pet hospital for emergency treatment, he was outraged because the staff placed money before comfort. After Kitty Cat had been treated, the staff would not allow Mr. Brewster to see his beloved cat until he had paid the bill. Mr. Brewster threw his platinum American Express card down and shouted, “Kitty Cat is no pauper!”
• When Paula Klein-Bruno was a kid, she knew that she wanted to be a jockey. She even bought a jockey cap and wore it all the time — the only way that her mother could get it away from her long enough to clean it was to take it to a one-hour dry cleaner. In 1995, Ms. Klein-Bruno achieved her dream, riding as a jockey in the New York racing circuit. (As a toddler, whenever she saw horse vans on the roads, she would yell, “Horses! Horses!” And as a kid, she often prayed, “God, please don’t let me grow too tall.” He didn’t — she is 4’11”.)
• Music director Theodore Stier was with dancer Anna Pavlova as she walked her dog, whose name was Teddy, in Montgomery, Alabama. A man saw them and was greatly impressed with Teddy and asked Mr. Stier if the woman wanted to sell him; however, Ms. Pavlova didn’t want to sell such a beloved pet. Therefore, Mr. Stier, Ms. Pavlova, and Teddy continued their walk, only to have the dog-lover suddenly yell to Mr. Stier, “Tell the girl that if only she’ll let me have the dog — I’ll marry her!”
• American author Flannery O’Connor loved birds all her life. When she was five years old, New York newsreel company Pathé News filmed one of her chickens because it was able to walk backwards. Later, in a home economics class, Flannery created what she described as “a piqué coat with a lace collar and two buttons in the back” for another of her chickens. As an adult, Ms. O’Connor raised peacocks.
• Sir Arthur Sullivan, a conductor, once heard that the young son of soprano Emma Albani was ill. He visited and had tea with Ms. Albani and her young son, who had nearly recovered from his illness. To amuse the boy, Sir Arthur brought a white rabbit, which hopped around the boy’s nursery. Thereafter, Ms. Albani’s son referred to Sir Arthur as “the White Rabbit.”
• Of course, identical triplets are very similar, but they are not so similar that family pets can’t tell them apart. For example, Edgar, the dog owned by the family of a set of identical triplets — who are named Darren, David, and Donny — can tell them apart. Their mother can tell Edgar to fetch David, and Edgar knows immediately whom to fetch.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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